Review: Oxygen

December Manic Mommies Book Selection

About two weeks after I finished reading this book someone in my family needed surgery. It was interesting to observe how the doctors interacted with the patient. The anesthesiologist spent as much time with my family member as Dr Heaton does with the patient in this book. 

From author’s website: Carol Wiley Cassella majored in English Literature at Duke University and graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in 1986. She currently practices anesthesia in Seattle and is a freelance medical writer specializing in global public health advocacy for the developing world. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington with her husband and their two sets of twins, and is working on her next novel.

Quick Take: It’s been a while since a book has stayed with me like Oxygen. I read this book in two sittings, I had to know how the story would end. I can’t wait to discuss this book with the MMBC and the author on December 16.

A little girl dies while in surgery, and the anesthesiologist might be to blame. As the investigation continues we follow Dr Heaton as she tries to make sense of what has happened. Marie keeps thinking and rethinking the events leading up to surgery and what happened on the operating table. Asking herself, how could this have happened? Who thinks about the anesthesiologist, we don’t see them on TV, nor do they impact our decisions to have a procedure or surgery. This is Dr. Marie Heaton’s story. Yes the patient and her family play in important part of the story but as a reader you are following the Doctor’s side of this case.

Click here for discussion invite and details

Carol answers our questions:
Tell us a little about yourself: I am currently wearing lots of hats, so where do I start? I am first and foremost a mother. My husband and I have two sets of twins (I’ll go ahead and answer the question you’re asking—yes they are natural! Set two was quite the surprise!) That alone has made for an interesting life. I’m also a doctor. I started my medical career as an internist, but I wanted a bit more time at home with my family and changed specialties to become an anesthesiologist. I really do love my work, and I’ve never regretted making that change. Anesthesia is challenging, intense, creative, FUN (often) and still does give me lots of patient contact.

Then there is the writer. That was actually my mission in life from the time I was very young, but I kept getting involved in other things (medicine, babies) and never devoted the time and dedication that serious writing takes until I was in my forties. That’s not to say I wasn’t writing—I have drawers of partially finished manuscripts and I worked as a science writer for a few years. But it took a completely different level of commitment to finish a novel. It was much harder than I expected, but also much more rewarding. Other details? I grew up in Texas, lived in the Northeast for few years and then discovered the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Hard to think I’ll ever leave!

Do you write daily? I can’t write daily. Until my children are grown and I work less at the hospital , I’m afraid that will be impossible. But I highly advise all writers to try. Writing fiction, and probably non-fiction as well, is a bit like maintaining a dream while awake. Much as a dream can feel tangible and unforgettable right after you open your eyes, it’s often forgotten by the time you brush your teeth. I try to remember that whatever I would have written today will never make it onto the page unless I make time to put it there. What I write tomorrow may be just as good, but it won’t be the same.

Click here to read the rest of the interview

Type: Fiction, 290 pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis:
Dr. Marie Heaton is an anesthesiologist at the height of her profession. She has worked, lived and breathed her career since medical school, and she now practices at a top Seattle hospital. Marie has carefully constructed and constricted her life according to empirical truths, to the science and art of medicine. But when her tried-and-true formula suddenly deserts her during a routine surgery, she must explain the nightmarish operating room disaster and face the resulting malpractice suit. Marie's best friend, colleague and former lover, Dr. Joe Hillary, becomes her closest confidante as she twists through depositions, accusations and a remorseful preoccupation with the mother of the patient in question. As she struggles to salvage her career and reputation, Marie must face hard truths about the path she's chosen, the bridges she's burned and the colleagues and superiors she's mistaken for friends.

A quieter crisis is simultaneously unfolding within Marie's family. Her aging father is losing his sight and approaching an awkward dependency on Marie and her sister, Lori. But Lori has taken a more traditional path than Marie and is busy raising a family. Although Marie has been estranged from her Texas roots for decades, the ultimate responsibility for their father's care is falling on her.

As her carefully structured life begins to collapse, Marie confronts questions of love and betrayal, family bonds and the price of her own choices. Setagainst the natural splendor of Seattle, and inside the closed vaults of hospital operating rooms, Oxygen climaxes in a final twist that is as heartrending as it is redeeming.

1 comment

Latest Instagrams

© Mari Partyka | Bookworm with a View. Design by Fearne.